A bill that appeared dead and gone for the 2022 Louisiana Legislative Session after years of failing to pass is now back again.

Rep. Mike Huval of Breaux Bridge has long wanted to ban handheld cell phone use in vehicles, but his efforts have been turned back again and again in the Legislature. Lawmakers have felt that concept - as well as some of the proposed penalties for violators - were too harsh.

For instance, Huval's recent legislation would have involved the possibility of arrest for violators. Also, the fine for violating that proposed law was too high. And, there was criticism that this could be used to racially profile drivers.

With the arrest possibility removed, the fine lowered to $50 to $100, and the racial profiling issue addressed, the amended House Bill 376 passed the state House by a vote of 55-38.

Rep. Mike Huval, house.louisiana.gov
Rep. Mike Huval, house.louisiana.gov
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“The information gathered by the Department of Public Safety would be given to the governor, the president of the Senate, and the speaker of the House for review to make certain that there’s no racial profiling by the use of this bill,” says Huval in this Louisiana Radio Network article. “The current law is at $500, there’s also an opportunity to do community service.”

Currently, drivers are not allowed to use handheld cell phones in school zones. Huval's bill expands that to public roadways.

But, if the bill passes the full Legislature and is not vetoed by Governor John Bel Edwards, that law could go away.

Mark Wallheisier, Getty Images
Mark Wallheisier, Getty Images
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“Representative Selders added an amendment that gives it a two-year sunset, which I think is good," says Huval. "If this is a bill that works and helps, it continues. If we see that it has flaws and is causing problems, it goes away."

What about if your vehicle does not have Bluetooth technology? Then, you would have to use headphones with a cell phone.

Time is ticking as the bill still needs Senate approval before the Legislature adjourns at 6 PM on Monday, June 6th.

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